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Bellevue Star Sadie O’Neil on Her Trans Identity, Dream Roles, & Weinstein

Bellevue Star Sadie O’Neil on Her Trans Identity, Dream Roles, & Weinstein

Sadie O'Neil
Photography by Brian Higbee

The trans Bellevue actress on life-changing revelations and femme-fatale fantasies.

You Know Her From: You probably don't. She's currently starring alongside Anna Paquin in her first major TV role, in the new WGN America crime drama Bellevue. The trans actress portrays teenager Jesse Sweetland, a young star hockey player who's in the process of transitioning and goes missing.

On Building Her Character: "When I met with [Bellevue director] Adrienne Mitchell and [Bellevue writer] Jane Maggs, I had the best first impression," says the 22-year-old O'Neil, who grew up in Montreal. "It was clear from the get-go that they were interested in making Bellevue a collaborative process. While I initially had some qualms about my character, they were immediately receptive to all my feedback. They made it clear they wanted to work with me to flesh out Jesse as much as possible."

Common Ground on Thin Ice: "There's a commonality between me and Jesse of being in a place of uncertainty and inevitability of realizing that something you thought was true about yourself is fundamentally different, and realizing that it is going to radically change the shape of your life. I think that anyone who's had to reevaluate a core belief about themselves can relate to this."

Ladies in Waiting: "I'd love to play a self-indulgent villainess in a Wes Anderson movie, someone with angular hair who's always wearing evening gloves. She does bank heists, and a man was mean to her cat once, so she stabbed him. Plan B: a frazzled but down-to-earth mailwoman who's in way over her head in a Coen brothers movie. You know, a protagonist with a huge golden retriever who reads lots of Emily Dickinson, gets embroiled in a corrupt mob-ring fiasco, and kills a guy with a mailbox out of self-defense. I also have a huge crush on Thandie Newton after seeing her in Westworld, so it'd be rad to work with her."

Life After Weinstein: "I'm aware of how lucky I was to work predominantly with women on Bellevue. It's been rough to witness this movement, because it's a constant, public excavation of trauma. It's infuriating that showing our wounds like this is what's required to keep our spaces free from slimy men, but I mean, it's something. A pettier part of me hopes the men who create systems of abuse live long, lonely, regretful lives in painful awareness of their lost humanity. But I also hope everyone who's had to air their trauma to earn respect can have a nice bath and meet a friendly cat."

Photography: Brian Higbee

Styling: Alison Brooks

Hair: Preston Wada at Opus Beauty using Kevin Murphy.

Makeup: Melissa Murdick at Opus Beauty using Chanel Les Beiges.

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